It’s down to the end of the year and my last blog post (for the year) will be another Dream Dinners brag. I finally started making December meals right after Christmas and I was really excited to make this variation of meatloaf. Almost every month, Dream Dinners offers a turkey or meatloaf recipe and this recipe featured both. I love the mini meatloaves, too, as its an easy and quick way to make dinner. Many of our customers also report that picky kiddos who think they hate meatloaf will eat these minis right up. I started by preheating the oven and prepping my muffin tin. Next, I mixed together the ground turkey and bread crumb mixture. I separated the mixture into six balls and placed them in the muffin tin. I cut a corner off the ziplock bag and drizzled each mini with glaze. I cooked them for about 25-30 minutes and let them set 5 minutes before serving them. This month the meatloaves came with one of my favorites-the Bacon Ranch Green Beans. I cooked the bacon for a few minutes and then added the butter/season mixture and green beans, cooking for about 5-6 minutes. We had some leftover rice that I heated up to serve and dinner was ready. The meatloaf and green beans were tasty and we were happy to have another quick, tasty meal done with plenty of time to go hang out with friends. I am definitely happy I found Dream Dinners this year to make our lives a little bit easier and a bit tastier, too!
On Wednesday, we headed to the Domain to check out new mattresses at the Casper store. I can’t wait for this Christmas present! We also knew that there would be some after Christmas sales to browse and there are so many newer restaurants we hadn’t tried yet. Before lunch, I was striking out on boot quest 2017 and we realized that Casper was not on the side where we parked. However, all was not lost, as we passed by Culinary Dropout and decided to enjoy lunch there. Culinary Dropout is definitely a funky Austin place nestled in the upscale Domain Northside. We lucked out and were able to be seated almost immediately. I think the cold weather was on our side and the Domain was not super crowded that day. We ordered a couple of brews-a winter warmer for me and an IPA style lager for Mike and began to browse the diverse menu. So many things sounded delicious, but I did not want to stuff myself since I knew I had more shopping and trivia later.
We decided to skip appetizers and order just lunch items. I picked the prime rib french dip with homemade potato chips and french onion dip. This was an excellent choice. The french dip warmed me up and it was amazing. The meat was cooked to perfection with a delightful melting cheese and soft toasted bread. Mike opted for an Italian grinder with french fries. His sandwich was also yummy and the fries were crisp and flavorful. We ate until we were full, but not stuffed so that we could continue shopping. We enjoyed the food and the atmosphere at Culinary Dropout and will definitely return to try more delicious menu items.
This year we did not go home for the holidays, however, Dream Dinners brought a little bit of hometown to our holidays. As soon as I saw that Toasted Ravioli was going to be included in the Sides and Sweets freezer for December, I knew that I had to make sure to get some. Toasted ravioli is a St. Louis favorite and I was excited to try Dream Dinners’ twist on a favorite item of ours. Most often, toasted ravioli is made with beef, but this variety had a gooey mozzerella, white cheese blend inside. We saved them for Christmas Day, deciding that they would be a great appetizer to serve with spaghetti. I followed the instructions and heated up the oven to 375 and baked them for 25 minutes. While the t-ravs were cooking, I warmed up the marinara dipping sauce. I pulled them out and decided that they weren’t quite crispy enough, so I cooked them another few minutes. At this point, the cheese was beginning to ooze out a bit, so I decided they would be done. While they weren’t quite like the ones we were accustomed to, these toasted raviolis were delicious. They almost reminded me of a hybrid mozzerella stick and toasted ravioli mix. We ate them up, barely saving room for spaghetti. If I am able to get these again in the future, I would probably cook them at a higher temperature to crisp them up a little more and I would also make sure to buy more than 1 package!
Welcome to end of the year blogging madness! I have been a busy girl with the excitement of the holidays and a short illness that left me unable to think about food for a hot second. I am finally trying to get caught up on my blogging before its time to start with a whole new year of food. Right before Christmas, we finally finished our November Dream Dinners meals. We ended the month of foods with a bang with the Pacific Rim Steak. We have been very impressed with the quality of the steaks from Dream Dinners and this recipe did not disappoint. I started by preparing the wontons. After preheating the oven, I put the wontons on a prepared baking sheet. I spread the oil mixture on the wontons, baking for about 6 minutes until they were brown and crispy. While the wontons were cooking, I heated up my grill pan on the stovetop. I cooked the steaks for about 5 minutes on each side and let them rest 5 minutes before serving them. We served the steaks on top of the wontons with a baked potato and a side of salad. This meal was delicious. We loved the flavor of the steak and the addition of the crispy wontons. It was so convenient to have a quick and tasty meal that we were able to prepare, make, and eat in under an hour!
Recently, we headed out for another fabulous vacation with some of our favorite travel buddies, Ashley, Jason, and sweet Ethan. They are great travel partners because we have similar styles of travel- we like to eat, drink, and be on the go nonstop during our trip. We dropped Lola off with her friends at Shady Acres and drove to our friends’ beautiful new home in Beaumont. It was a decent drive-there was lots of rain, which we had no idea would turn into snow. We were not sad that we missed the snow in Austin, as I’ve seen enough snow to last a lifetime. Our first adventure had us making a trip to a liquor store so that Ashley and Mike could buy rare beers. Later, we enjoyed the beer with some yummy Thai food. We had a great time hanging out, catching up, and one of us was excited to see snow.
Friday morning we woke up to snow! We waited for Jason to complete rounds and then we all packed up into the truck to be on our way. We stopped in Lake Charles, LA at Luna, a bar and grill, for lunch. At no surprise to us, Jason and I ordered the same sandwich, a grilled chicken sandwich, and Mike and Ashley also ordered the same sandwich, a buffalo chicken style sandwich. The food was delicious and it was good to get out and stretch a little bit before continuing on our way. We discovered that parts of Louisiana got a fair amount of snow and it was absolutely beautiful as we drove through Baton Rouge. We made it to New Orleans just in time to unpack and be on our way for dinner.
The weather was not quite what we had expected as it was fairly damp and cold most of the weekend. We tried to head to a fancy pizza place for dinner, but they had no openings for hours and that didn’t quite work for us traveling with a toddler. We made our way to Ole Saint Kitchen and Tap for dinner and some local brews. I picked the macaroni and cheese with roast beef debris and it did not disappoint. The roast beef debris had a yummy sauce and paired fabulously with the creamy cheese and bow tie pasta.
After dinner, we took Ashley and Ethan back to the hotel before heading out to Bourbon St. It was a truly unique experience. There were people everywhere and from all walks of life. We wandered for a bit to take in the sights before settling at Pat O’Briens, where we had to try the iconic hurricanes. It was pretty cold that night so we walked some before returning to the bar in our hotel.
Our goal on Saturday was to go to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and coffee. We walked to Jackson Square for some sightseeing and to get breakfast. The line for Cafe du Monde was insane, but fast moving and we were able to enjoy the delicious treats with the flavorful coffee. We ended up wearing a bit of the evidence, but that just showed how much we enjoyed our food! We did a fair amount of walking, stopping at Brieux Carre for beers for the boys before stopping at Acme Oyster for lunch.
Poor Ethan didn’t feel well after a long day in the cold, so he and Ashley missed out on our dinner that evening. We also took the opportunity to hit up several dive bars and enjoyed the sights and people watching. The following morning, the boys tried to go to a bar for some amazing fries while Ashley and I got ready for our tea time. It seemed like a weekend of mishaps because the kitchen at the bar didn’t start serving until later, so the boys missed out on those. Our tea time got cancelled due to a pastry problem and we all ended up eating brunch instead. After brunch, we stopped to pick up some pralines before heading home. We stopped in Lafayette, LA to visit a neat home store, Paul Michaels and then for a yummy pizza dinner. Mike and I stayed one more night in Beaumont before heading home. It was another amazing adventure with our “framily.” We can’t wait to see where our next adventure might take us.
My parents came to Austin for a whirlwind preholiday vacation, so we have been dining out a lot. I was really glad that I had some Dream Dinners meals in the freezer so that I had something healthy and quick to make after dropping them off at the airport. I am still finishing up the last bit of my November meals and I need to get cracking on December. Fortunately, Mike has a bit of time of near the holidays so we will be home to enjoy plenty of meals together. I knew this meal would be tasty, as we had made it previously in the store as the appetizer. I always have pasta or rice and frozen vegetables on hand, so I decided to pair it with orzo and broccoli. I got my orzo started and then read the recipe for the chicken. I decided that we would be eating the chicken breasts whole and I didn’t feel like using the broiler or grill pan. In the end, I opted to create my own cooking plan. I poured the chicken and marinade in a skillet and heated them up over medium heat and put the lid on. I cooked the chicken for 6 minutes on each side to start. After the initial cook, I cooked them for another 2—3 minutes on each side. I checked to make sure they were cooked through, we plated our food, and dinner was served. The chicken was moist and tender with a little bit of a sweet flavor. It paired nicely with the orzo and broccoli. After all the indulgent foods we’ve been eating lately, this meal was truly a “Dream Dinner.” We were fed quickly, easily, and with a healthy meal. I look forward to finishing my November meals tonight and finally getting started on my December meals.
I have been super busy lately and have gotten very behind on making my Dream Dinners meals. In fact, I am finishing up the last few from November still. Before we left for vacation, we tried a new meal. I was excited to make the turkey burgers and I was very confident that they’d turn out yummy. I decided to serve my burgers with tater tots, so I got those started before I made the burgers. I haven’t had a lot of luck with turkey burgers on my grill pan, so I decided to pan fry them. I preheated a skillet on the stove top. I put the ground turkey and seasonings in a bowl and mixed it well. I formed the turkey mixture into 3 large patties and cooked them about 7 minutes on each side. Once the burgers were almost done, I put the buns in the oven to lightly toast them. We put the burgers on the buns, topped them with BBQ sauce and served. The burgers had wonderful flavor with the rosemary and cheddar cheese mixed inside. I love the pretzel buns and the BBQ sauce adds an extra zing. I was super happy with the meal and the leftovers were great the next day, too.
We are still working hard to finish up our November batch of Dream Dinners. It means that grocery shopping has be pretty easy with just grabbing snacks and breakfast items. Last night, I sent Mike and Lola for a walk while I got started on dinner. I preheated the oven and prepped my pan by removing the lid and sticking it on a baking sheet, just to be safe. It was still lightly frozen so I knew I would have to check everything to make sure it had cooked through. I placed the bags of verde sauce and sour cream on top of the oven as it preheated to help them thaw faster. I cooked the chimichangas for 20 minutes uncovered and then pullled them out of the oven. Frustration set in because I had to flip them in the pan and I obviously did not spray the pan well when I made them. I put them back in the oven for another 20 minutes. With about 5 minutes left, I started working on the corn medley. I heated up a small skillet and added the butter/seasoning and corn, cooking until done. After the chimichangas had baked, I covered them with the green verde sauce. We made a mess scooping them out of the pan, but they still seemed tasty. I drizzled mine with sour cream and we were ready to eat. They were delicious and paired well with the corn. This was a gooey cheesy mess, but it was very tasty. In the future, I will try to do a better job spraying the pan and make sure I am wearing my patient pants when I am cooking this meal.
Saturday was a busy day at our house, so we decided to stay in for dinner. I pulled out the Italiano Chicken and Orzo and dinner was a breeze. I heated up oil in a skillet and added the chicken mixture, cooking and stirring for about 5-7 minutes. Next, I stirred in the seasoned tomato mix to blend. I added in the orzo and brought it to a boil. I let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the orzo was tender. I did add a little more water after 15 minutes to achieve the desired consistency. We sprinkled with cheese and were ready to eat. This meal was so simple and so tasty. It produced so much, too, so we were able to eat plenty that night and have a couple of portions leftover. Another great Dream Dinners meal came to rescue this busy family!
‘Tis the season for giving. On Friday, Whitestone Brewery was collecting toys for the Blue Santa Program, which gives toys to kids who have left their homes due to domestic violence. They were also donating a percentage of sales to the program. We picked up some toys and decided to enjoy a few hours at our favorite place. We also got to try a new food truck, Garbo’s. They are known for their lobster rolls, but we are not lobster people. I picked a cheeseburger and took the recommendation to add bacon on top. Mike tried the blackened cod sandwich and we split fries. Our food was pretty good, but not our favorite food truck ever. My burger was a solid burger and I liked that the bacon was chopped rather than in strips. Mike thought his sandwich was just okay, maybe not quite what he expected. The fries were well seasoned and crispy. The weather was nice so we ate on the patio before heading in to the bar to hang out with a friend. We were happy to donate to a worthy cause, spend time at our favorite place, and I even won a crowler of beer. Good times all around!
We are behind on our November meals and I just assembled December’s meals today. For the next several meals, it will be Dream Dinners, leftovers, or out. The pork tenderloins that we make are always tasty and this was no exception. I preheated the oven and got my pan ready. I also determined that I would use the leftover sides from the other night and save myself time and fridge space. First, I added the pecans to the crumb mixture. I used tongs to remove the pork from the marinade and place it on my baking sheet. Next, I packed the crumb mixture on top of the tenderloin. I put the tenderloin to bake for 35 minutes on the bottom rack in the oven. While the pork was cooking, I brought the cranberry applesauce to a boil and then let it simmer for about 25 minutes. After the pork cooked, I let it rest for a few minutes before Mike sliced it. That gave me time to heat up the sides and set the table. We served the sauce on top of the pork with sides of rice and gingered carrots. Everything was so good! The pork was cooked perfectly and the sauce tasted like fall. Hopefully, this item is back on the menu in the future because it was a hit for us.
Last night, I had a meeting at work so Mike made one of our Dream Dinners meals. He started by making some rice to serve with the chicken and then got started on the chicken. He heated up some oil in a skillet and cooked the chicken for 3 minutes on each side to brown it. Next, he added the sauce to the chicken, turned down the heat, and cooked it for about 15 minutes. At the end of the cooking process, he heated up a small skilllet and sautéed the carrots in the butter blend for about 5 minutes. We served the chicken over the rice and put the carrots on the side. This was a really yummy dish. I loved the flavor of the sauce and the carrots were a perfect pairing. The only thing I didn’t love was the baby corn, which I kept on the side for Mike. We really liked this meal and would be happy to make it again.
Thank Goodness for Dream Dinners! Last night, I was tired of leftovers and too tired to go out, so I was happy to have a meal that was quick and easy to make for dinner. I definitely made modifications to this meal by leaving out the mushrooms and adding a side of my delicious green bean casserole (ok, 1 leftover). I started by heating up some oil in a skillet and cooked the chicken breasts for 2 minutes on each side. To the chicken, I added the onion mixture, reducing the heat, and cooking it about 5-6 minutes until the onions were soft. While this was cooking, I put the mashed potatoes in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Next, I added the Marsala sauce to the chicken mix and stirred to blend, allowing it to simmer 5-6 minutes. Once the chicken was done, I removed it from the heat and stirred in some culinary cream. We served the chicken over the potatoes with a side of green bean casserole. My green bean casserole has a jalapeno kick, so the creamy chicken and mashed potatoes were a great addition. Mike was not as impressed as I was, but I really liked it. The chicken was cooked perfectly without being dry and I enjoyed the flavors in the sauce. Once again, Dream Dinners saved the day!
This was a long weekend and we spent a good portion of it at our happy place, Whitestone Brewery. Mike had to work the early shift on Black Friday, so he was tired and I didn’t really feel like cooking or eating Thanksgiving leftovers. We were eager to try the food truck, RWB’s Chow Bus. Our beertenders told us great things about this food truck with lots of Chicago favorites. The menu was quite varied with pizzas, salads, sandwiches, and more. Eventually, I opted for the Redbird, a grilled chicken sandwich with a side of crinkle cut fries. Mike picked the Italian beef tacos and an order of America Balls. The food was excellent. My chicken sandwich was very simple, but the chicken was well seasoned and cooked perfectly. I love crinkle fries and these were a perfect specimen-crisp and salty. Mike loved his Italian beef tacos that had a bit of spice to them. The America Balls were fried cheese balls, which were right up his alley and much tastier than the last deep fried balls served at Whitestone. All the food was amazing and there were more menu items that we’d gladly try given the chance. We didn’t stay long, as we were tired, but it was a great way to kickstart our weekend.
On Wednesday, we were heading to Whitestone for a Turkey Testicle Festival, but we knew we were eating at home first. I had defrosted another great Dream Dinners meal that I was able to cook and assemble while Mike and Lola went for a quick walk. I preheated my oven to 400 and got my pans ready. On one pan, I placed the chicken pieces and the mac and cheese wedges went on the other pan. I baked everything for about 15 minutes. Next, I pulled everything out and put together the sliders with a bun, a piece of chicken, Swiss cheese, and french fried onions. They went into the broiler for about 2 minutes until the cheese had melted. We topped the sliders with some smoky chipotle sauce and we were ready to eat. We were really impressed with the mac and cheese wedges this time. They were cooked through and crispy-much better than a previous attempt. The sliders were good, too. I loved the addition of the crunchy onions and the chipotle sauce added a nice bit of spice. This was a perfect meal for our on the go lifestyle that we seem to be having lately.
Monday was a rough day. We realized that the garage door had been open over the weekend due to some sort of issue with the sliding mechanism. I thought I had fixed it Sunday afternoon and nothing seemed out of the norm. When we got to the garage Monday morning for Mike and Lola to go to to work and play, I realized something was not right. There was insulation from the garage door all over the place. We quickly loaded up, thinking maybe one of the neighbor’s cats had been trapped in the garage at some point. I realized that there was urine all over the windshield of the car and knew I was going to be dealing with a mess. I dropped off Mike and Lola and decided to take a better look to see what I was dealing with. Upon looking at some footprints on the car, it was obvious that I was not dealing with a cat, but likely a raccoon. I called Animal Control to have them check out the situation. The two ladies from Animal Control confirmed that a raccoon had been there, but was no longer there. Next, I had to deal with getting the car clean. I went to a car wash, hoping that it was a place where they would clean it by hand. Unfortunately, I realized too late that it was an automatic wash, which I absolutely hate. After this trauma, I went to pick up Mike and Lola. Mike suggested that maybe we should head to Whitestone for a few beers and dinner.
Mike is so smart! We got to hangout with one of our favorite beertenders, Trish, and try a new food truck, Tryst. The cool thing about Tryst is that its a farm to food truck type of place, so it has an ever changing menu. We just missed the fried chicken, which smelled amazing. We were able to try several other items. I opted for a cheeseburger, Mike got a pimento cheese sandwich that sounded perfect for him, and we split the loaded fries. After ordering, we hung out at the bar and he brought our food to us. Everything was super tasty! My burger was cooked perfectly and had great flavors. Mike loved his sandwich and it was almost designed for his with pimento cheese, bacon, and sweet and spicy pickles. The loaded fries had a little bit of everything on the menu including beef, bacon, cheese, jalapeños, bbq sauce and even a fried egg. They were definitely the most unique loaded fries I’ve ever tasted. Tryst seems to be quite a staple at Whitestone with brunches on the weekend and they even helped with the Turkey Testicle Festival on Wednesday. I can’t wait to try the brunch and many of the other dishes that Tryst has to offer. I also felt much better after spending time at our happy place away from our garage problems.
Dream Dinners makes a delicious meatloaf. I am choosy about meatloaf, as my recipe from my mom is my favorite, but Dream Dinners does a good job creating a tasty meal. In addition to the meatloaf, we had a delicious twice baked potato wedge without all the work, and bacon ranch green beans. I started by preparing my muffin tin and preheating the oven. I love the tip of making meatloaf in a muffin tin because it cooks much quicker and is already portioned out. I mixed the ground beef with the oatmeal mixture (this is why I loved this recipe!) and combined it well. I split the mixture into 6 balls which I put in the muffin tins. I drizzled the chili sauce over each meatloaf muffin and baked them for 25-30 minutes. Next, I prepped the potatoes. I put some foil on a baking sheet and put each potato skin on the sheet. I mixed the filling bag and piped the potato mixture evenly on each skin. I baked the potatoes for about 20-25 minutes. When the meatloaf and potatoes had just a few minutes left, I cooked the bacon green beans in a skillet. This was a fabulous meal! The meatloaf tasted very close to mine, with just a little kick from the chili sauce. The twice baked potatoes were super yummy and so easy-I wished we had more! We look forward to the chance to make this one again.
After a nasty cold and an exciting Monday, I am trying to catch up on blogging before we hit the beginning of the holiday crazies. We are not traveling home this year, but we are headed to New Orleans and my parents are coming to visit, so December is shaping up to be quite busy. At the rate we are going, I’ll be lucky to find time to cook, let alone blog. Last week, one of our meals was Pesto Cheese Ravioli with Chicken and Walnuts. This is a meal that is called a Fastlane at Dream Dinners, which means I didn’t make it-it was premade by staff ahead of time. This was a fairly simple meal to make and we had high hopes for it. I started by bringing water to boil in a large pot over high heat. I added the ravioli and cooked them about 9-10 minutes. I put the chicken and sauce ingredients in a pan and made sure that it was completely thawed. I brought it to a boil and let it simmer until the sauce thickened. Once the sauce and chicken were done, I added in the ravioli and we were ready to eat. I skipped walnuts on mine, which gave Mike more for his portion. We really wanted to like this meal, but we felt like it was just okay. It seemed like it was missing something. Had I made it myself, I may have added a touch of red pepper to give it a bit of spice. It was fine and probably well loved by some, but it fell a little flat for us.
Once again, I am playing blog catch up. I caught a nasty cold last week and my poor brain was not in prime writing mode. I must have been pretty pathetic one day because Mike actually cooked one of the Dream Dinners meals. His only request was that I read him the recipe, as it was pretty small. On Tuesday, he made the Sausalito Chicken Flatbreads, which we paired with a salad. He started by putting the flatbreads on a baking sheet and sticking them in the broiler for a few minutes on each side. We used the low setting, as our broiler tends to overdo things a bit. Next, he heated up some oil in a skillet and added the seasoned chicken mixture, cooking it for about 5 minutes. On each flatbread, he spread the spinach artichoke mixture, cooked chicken mixture, and cheese. He broiled the flatbreads a few minutes until the cheese was melted and bubbly. These were simple and very tasty. It was a very gourmet concept for pizza that was done with ease. Mike got to experience how easy the Dream Dinners meals are to make and I got a yummy dinner. This meal was a winner in our house and the leftovers were quite tasty, too!
The other day Lola had some friends over to play and decided that I should bake for them. Fortunately, her friends were people so they got to try these delicious Oatmeal Cookie S’more Bars. I love anything s’mores so I definitely had high hopes for these bars. In fact, I thought these sounded so yummy that I doubled the recipe. I started by preheating the oven and prepping my pan. Next, I creamed the softened butter and sugar in my stand mixer. I added in vanilla, eggs, baking soda, and salt. Finally, I added in the flour and oats. I took half the mixture and pressed it in the bottom of the pan. Then, I warmed up the marshmallow fluff and spread it on top of the cookie layer. I sprinkled chocolate chips on top of the marshmallow and topped it with the other half of the cookie dough. I baked the bars for about 25 minutes, when they were golden brown. I let them cool over night and sliced them before our guests arrived. These were ooey gooey and tasty. The combination of oatmeal cookie, marshmallow fluff, and chocolate chips was delightful. They were enjoyed by our guests and we ate them for several days after. This is definitely a treat I would try again, but will be prepared to be sticky.